UWE students complain their 'pod' accommodation is 'not fit for humans'

Camilla Turner
The inside of the accommodation has been described as like a shipping container - Maya Bond-Webster/UWE HUB Magazine

Students have complained that their “pod” accommodation in a university car park is “not fit for humans” and “not mentally viable”.

Undergraduates staying at the University of the West of England's (UWE) new Purbeck Court site have described their "tiny" temporary units as shipping containers.

The 8x10ft (2.4x3m) en suite "studio pods" were installed in a car park, as a pilot scheme to meet the increased demand for housing on campus.

But complaints about the 21 studio flats have included there being limited communal space, thin walls and being overlooked by an existing hall of residence.

One student is moving out after complaining that living at the site near Bristol was "not mentally viable".

Joe Oakes-Monger, a first year History student at UWE, told the BBC that he had decided to move out because it was "quite isolating" to live in "a very confined space".

The outside of the accommodation Credit: Maya Bond-Webster/UWE HUB Magazine

"At the time [I moved in] I was desperate for accommodation, but I was pretty appalled. I couldn't quite believe the prospect of spending a year there."

He added that it was "not an appropriate living standard for a human being". Students are being charged £150 per week to live in the pods whereas campus accommodation at the university ranges from £111 to £183 per week.

UWE is the latest university to come under fire for providing unsuitable accommodation. Last month it emerged that Bristol University offered student accommodation across the border in Wales after it ran out of room.  

The university wrote to over 100 prospective first year students to inform them that there is no space for them in university-owned accommodation in the city. 

Among the possible options suggested by Bristol’s accommodation office was the “Commute and Save” residence in Newport which is over 30 miles away from the campus.

A spokesman for UWE said that they are planning to build new rooms for 2022 to meet increased demand for accommodation on campus. As an interim measure, they said that the 21 “studio pods” are part of a trial to “to see whether these might be suitable as a temporary solution”.

“These pods have been used successfully elsewhere, including student accommodation at other universities, and provide students with the opportunity to live on campus,” the spokesman said. 

We have already received feedback that students would like more social space included within the accommodation, so as a result we are adding an additional area for the students to use.

They said that any students who wish to move from Purbeck Court could have their name added to a waiting list for alternative on-campus accommodation when it becomes available.